4Es of good degrees: what makes pre-registration nurses successful in achieving good degrees

Ryan, Gemma Sinead (2015). 4Es of good degrees: what makes pre-registration nurses successful in achieving good degrees. In: RCN Education forum international conference and exhibition 2015, 10-11 Mar 2015, Nottingham, UK.


Research studies examining academic attainment in Higher Education identify age, gender, disability, ethnicity and stress as possible influencing factors on a student’s ability to achieve ‘good’ honours degrees (HEA, 2008;Shanahan, 2004;Simonite, 1997;Vosper et al, 2005; Salamonson & Andrew, 2006; Pryjmachuk et al, 2008). Much of this research quantitative and mainly identifies non-modifiable factors or factors which may have further root cause e.g. stress. It is known that student nurses often leave programmes as a result of a multitude of factors leading to stress; including finances, personal commitments and placement experience (RCN, 2008) but it is also known that some still attain good academic levels suggesting that there must ‘be more to it’.
This pilot project used unstructured narrative to explore the real life journey of pre-registration students [n=6] who performed at a level that indicated their ability to obtain a good honours degrees.
A framework analysis identified mechanisms and interventions under the following headings; encouraging, enabling, empowering, ennobling. Results indicate that students experience a range of challenges in their lives. Academic and personal background seems to have an impact on the way in which they view and understand roles/responsibilities of students and staff. These students did not tend to use formal support systems regularly e.g. extensions for assignments and that when they were used it was seen as ‘a last resort’. Having knowledge of and effectively using mechanisms for managing stress and personal-academic-work commitments were of benefit, including: regular exercise, time management techniques, peer support, the ability to reflect on and revisit assessment feedback. These students also had very clear ideas about the requirements of academic study e.g. being widely read, and ownership of learning.
A list of recommendations and advice for students and staff is available. A further longitudinal piece of research is suggested to add to this knowledge.

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